Image for Blessed Are The Obsessed: Northlane ‘Discoveries’ Review + Interview

Blessed Are The Obsessed: Northlane ‘Discoveries’ Review + Interview

Written by Mike Hohnen on November 9, 2011

I’ve been following Northlane closely since they first dropped 2010’s Hollow Existence, which not only gained them a strong following but also sent a chill down the spine of their so-called competition. Now with the release of Discoveries looming over the horizon, all those who consider themselves in the same tier as Northlane are about to feel an all too familiar chill. They’re back and taking names.

The differences between Discoveries and Hollow Existence are subtle, but many. Gone are the somewhat overwhelming parallels to influences such as Architects, Discoveries shows that Northlane are ready to forge their own path and make their own unique sound and this is done masterfully. Discoveries explores the whole ‘metal’ spectrum. Obvious at first with the mellow, albeit technical intro to the album Dispossession, but don’t be fooled. Like a shot of nice tequila the burn soon follows.

The drums, guitars and vocals are mixed and leveled…perfectly! And once Dispossession kicks into gear, the pace of the album rarely slows. This can sometimes act against bands trying to prove their brutality, but not Northlane who manage to weave soft melodic riffs between some of the wildest breakdowns you will ever hear – but not for one second does it become wussy. As even with the clean vocals featured in Comatose, the eerie undertones and gradual build up of the instruments instills a sense that shits about to get real. And it really does.

Title track Discoveries gives the listener a moment to chill. But not for long as it soon takes an epic turn, with the fade out of soft ambient chords, the song begins to swell, climaxing with some djent-esque chug in a very stylish manner. This isn’t however, Northlane’s only attempt to diversify the sounds on the album, with a touch of vocal stutters and the occasional, but oh so essential bass drop – not to mention some insanely difficult sweeps and super tight drumming.

Corruption takes the prize of best track for me, 13 seconds in and I promise you will be head banging and probably air drumming. Though the hook for me is the bands flawless ability to mix ambient with brutal – demonstrated throughout the whole album but truly driven home in Corruption. The boys give it all they’ve got on I Shook Hands With Death, showcasing production genius, instrumental domination and wicked vocals, though most impressive of all is the abrupt finish, no fade out, or attempt at theatrics – the album ends simply and almost devastatingly with a bang.

Northlanes latest release manages to tick all the right boxes, brutal as fuck, meticulously technical, professionally written and considerable replay value.  To all of Northlane’s peers, Discoveries sends one deliberate and harsh message ‘Game over’.

I thought i’d give Northlane a chance to explain this for themselves…

Music Feeds: What’s your name and what do you do in the band?

Josh Smith: Josh – I play guitar and manage the band

MF: What started all this?

JS: Jon (guitarist) and Alex (bass player) started talking over the internet in late 2009 and decided they’d start sharing some tabs of riffs they’d written. This developed into our first song “the deadmines” which was recorded by Jon in order to recruit other band members. Not long after that, Adrian and I were part of the first line-up. We have a different drummer now but more or less still the same group of people.

We started off building our name through MySpace in early 2010 following that, started with a few local shows here and there from April 2009 and things grew from there.

MF: What kind of music did you listen to before you were in Northlane?

JS: All sorts of stuff, when I was a teenager I was especially into a lot of thrash bands like slayer and exodus.

MF: In your opinion, how is the band different since the days of ‘Hollow Existence’?

JS:  Firstly, we are much more mature as people and musicians in every aspect of the word, this really is noticeable in the music and in our live shows. When we were writing Discoveries we had a much clearer idea of how we wanted the album to sound, and how different songs were going to fit together to create something really diverse whilst still retaining a core sound. Hollow Existence was more about finding our sound and getting a release under our belts, the songs on that CD are much less consistent.

MF: You’re now signed to UNFD, how did that come about?

JS:  A friend of UNFD’s AR manager & artist manager saw us at a show and told the UNFD guys about us. We then sent a press kit to UNFD with a few unmixed tracks off the album; this was about 2 months after we finished tracking. It was pretty awesome because we instantly got great feedback from those guys, they came to see us play and were welcomed into their family as friends before they slipped that they wanted to sign us. It was much needed at that point in time because we’d spent so much money on the CD and every other single label we spoke to knocked us back. We were confident in what we had come up with but starting to get worried and felt like we were going nowhere. In hindsight UNFD was the best place we ever could have been and we’re really grateful that things took the course they did.

MF: Discoveries is set to drop soon, give us a run down!

JS:  It’s a 10 track CD we recorded with Electric Sun Studios here in Sydney, and was then mixed and mastered by Will Putney at the machine shop in the US. The lyrics are about the internal and external discoveries you make throughout the course of your life, and although they are really personal, most people will be able to relate to them. Musically we wanted to take the best vibes from hardcore and mix it with some deeper soundscapes with a progressive feel. There’s huge influences in there from post hardcore bands like Underoath in that respect but the vocals are straight from the heart and you’ll hear some really big Meshuggah-esque riffs in there too.

MF: Which track are you looking forward to playing live the most?

JS:  We’ve already played a whole heap of the tracks live, but it will be so awesome when people will know the songs. I can’t wait to play corruption live in that respect, the lyrics in that song hit really hard and it’s got a nice heavy groove to it.

MF: What’s the best thing about being in a band?

JS:  There are lots of best things! For me personally, I love meeting new people, traveling, spending time with my mates and most of all getting to play my guitar for people every night on tour!

MF: What’s on the cards for Northlane and where can we catch you next?

JS:  We’re just about to kick off on The Discoveries Tour, which is hitting most places on the east coast of Australia. Following that we’ll be filming our first ever video clip which is really exciting too!

The Discoveries Tour Dates

Thursday 10th November
Hot Damn Nightclub, Sydney (18+)

Friday 11th November
Yo Yo’s Youth Center, Sydney (AA)

Saturday 12th November
Expressive Grounds, Gold Coast (day show) (AA)

Saturday 12th November
Thriller Nightclub, Brisbane (18+)

Sunday 13th November
Blackbox Theatre, Nambour (AA)

Friday 18th November
Flynns Beach Surf Club, Port Macquarie (AA)

Saturday 19th November
The Loft, Newcastle (AA)

Sunday 20th November
Dubbo RSL (AA)

Wednesday 23rd November
Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle (18+)

Thursday 24th November
Gee Whiz, Central Coast (18+)

Friday 25th November
Pow Nightclub, Werribee (18+)

Saturday 26th November
Narre Warren Learning Centre (day show), Melbourne (AA)

Saturday 26th November
Bang Nightclub, Melbourne (18+)

Sunday 27th November
Musicman Megastore, Bendigo (AA)

Thursday 1st December
The Loft, Warnambool

Friday 2nd December
Purplez Entertainment Centre, Mt Gambier (LIC/AA)

Saturday 3rd December
Fowlers Live, Adelaide (AA)

Sunday 4th December
The National, Geelong (AA)

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